Birthday Walk on the Cleveland Way to Kepwick
Distance: 9.4 miles
Easy going on good track and obvious footpaths on moor and pasture.
Starting point is the Forestry Commission carpark at the top of Sneck Yate Bank, Boltby.
Head out on the stony track, Hambleton Road, running north-west across Murton Common. Hambleton Road is an old drove road and as such is enclosed on both sides.
|Hambleton Road - Enclosed drove road.|
About a mile along the track, there is a cross roads with the Cleveland Way (South) going left into High Paradise Farm and a bridlepath heads through a wooden gate and out onto Dale Town Common. We continue ahead on the Cleveland Way (North), the hard packed surface gives way to rutted grass before entering Boltby Forest half a mile down the track.
|About to enter Boltby Forest.|
In the forest the path, which has recently been improved by Cleveland Way volunteers, runs between the moor boundary and the edge of the trees. The forest is home to a variety of fir and pine trees, mushrooms, wild fruits, birds and butterflies. Deeper in the trees, you may find small groups of roe deer, although they don't often venture out to the moor.
|Looking out across the moor.|
|Easy going on Little Moor.|
The track leaves the forest after about half a mile by means of a large metal gate at Steeple Cross. The track is obvious on the ground ahead, with a good dry stone wall on the left. The track crosses Little Moor, which is part of the Hawnby and Arden Estate. In a slight depression is another cross road.
|At the cross roads above Kepwick Quarry|
To the left, through a gate the metalled road heads downhill through the (disused) Kepwick Quarry to Kepwick village. To the right, a rough road leads to Arden Hall. Again, we continue forward on the Cleveland Way for another 425m to where a portion of the drystone wall juts out almost across the track. Almost immediately after the wall, is a wooden gate go through this and follow the obvious footpath which runs downhill along a good wall.
|About to drop down towards Nab Farm.|
|...and a bit more...|
|Mucky old moo-cows at Nab Farm!|
Continue straight on down the metalled driveway, passing the Nab on the right, and onto Bridge Beck Lane. Turn left onto the road towards Kepwick village, first crossing Bridge Beck then head uphill and at the top turn right into the village.
Continue right through the village and after passing the small church on the right, look out for a bridlepath on the left. Go through the gate and pass between two rows of trees, slightly uphill to another gate at the foot of Atlay Bank.
|Exiting Kepwick on the bridlepath.|
|Heading for the gate at the base of Atlay Bank.|
Through this gate, take the bridlepath on the left which runs around the bank on a narrow path before entering a gorge lined with rhododendrons which climbs sharply onto Pen Hill. Pen Hill is a promontory jutting from the moor into the valley below. On the top, the path is obvious on the grass ahead, it passes over an indistinct boundary then between Cowesby Forest and a small stand of silver birch before going through a gate at Black Hill. The path zig-zags to miss the worst boggy areas, but essentially follows a stone wall on the left. There are plenty of trees here, but it not demarcated as woodland on the OS map.
|Atop Pen Hill, Cowesby Woods on the right.|
|The gate at Black Hill.|
The path and wall turn left to pass around Gallow Hill before meeting a wooden gate at another crossing of paths. Go straight on through the gate, then turn left once in Boltby Forest and head uphill following the forest edge to meet the Cleveland Way once more at the forest/moor boundary at Steeple Cross. Turn right and follow the good track of Hambleton Road back through the trees and to the carpark at Sneck Yate.
Later on, as it was my birthday we went for a lovely meal at the Old Oak Tree at South Kilvington, followed by a couple of pints at the Carpenters Arms, a bit nearer home.